It’s always hard for me to look the other way when it comes to dumb marketing moves (which often involve bandwagon approaches that hop on the success tip du jour – sadly these quick tricks usually cause more long-term damage than short term gains). On the full-disclosure front, I spent twenty-plus years in the marketing industry helping small businesses and not-for-profits, so tend to be hyper-sensitive to hype.

If you seek to eke out any portion of your living from horse related activities and believe tactics that alienate your prospects or clients are effective, or embrace the latest horse training fad or fetish thinking your credibility will be enhanced (with both equines and people), think again.

Social media fads: this week’s spin is ‘ask for help’

This week’s social media silver bullet seems to be asking for help. I’ve received at least a dozen cryptic messages in the past five days that point people to a blog post or video link without revealing the ‘secret.’ Many involve a huge preamble about how the writer will not make a decision until their readers/viewers log in with comments (and necessary information so they can be captured on their lists). Then, they’re pointed to a (usually way too long) message that is punctuated with a sales pitch. This reminds me of the 10-page direct mail letters – or the old-style used car salesman (or horse broker) approaches. Make a prospect feel invested already with time spent and then pull out the two-by-four to knock a sales decision into their head. Maybe the immediate numbers are showing returns, but that 1% numbers game doesn’t do much for building long-term relationships.

List building

Which brings us to the next critical money making strategy being put out there these days – list building. Of course, the assumption is, the bigger your list is, the easier it will be to monetize your efforts. Really? I’d rather have a list of people who trust me, know who I am and are passionate about sharing what I have to say than a group of people who feel duped and manipulated into being subjected to what they perceive as spam (can you say affiliate promotions?).

Affiliate promotions

This year has seen a tidal wave of affiliate promotion tactics. There are days when I get over 30 messages from the small number of social media newsletters I subscribe to by 5 a.m. promoting the exact same program (some sending them half a dozen times or more during the sleeping hours). My reaction to the big offenders has been to unsubscribe and stop buying and/or recommending their products/services.

Putting horse sense into the mix

When you ask a horse for help, you better be real. Sadly, most people seem to think they can manipulate others (maybe once – but you’ll pay for it in souring relationships) to get what they want. Horses will school you if your request for help is disingenuous. If you’re really willing to listen, though, they’ll teach you tons. Offer a relationship that includes respect that goes both ways and they’ll do more for you than you can imagine. Of course, to do this, you need to be open and flexible enough to hear and respond to the signals being sent.

Bandwagon, or formula approaches create horses that either tune out or turn belligerent. Funny, people who recognize they’re being manipulated seem to respond the same way. The vast reach social media provides has many playing the numbers game. Sure, maybe your formula will reach a small segment to turn an immediate profit from some trusting human souls, or be able to reach a single horse among many, but at what cost? Relationship building is best done one-on-one – whether it is focused on horses or humans. This requires spending the time to understand the issues of those you’re trying to talk to.

It is a circular world

Much of what’s being embraced today as a means for rapid income generation will come back to bite the perpetrators in due time. We’ve seen it in the past and just because the medium’s changed, doesn’t mean reactions have. Sure, you can use deceptive or scheming methods to get a quick win, but with horses and humans, trust is the ultimate influencer long-term. There’s always been an undercurrent of tactics presented to as fool proof. Sadly, it’s the fools paying those making the big bucks that support their claims of riches.

4 Responses

  1. These are great points. I have been riding, training and teaching for well … lets say along time… and can say that like the classic saying goes “everything I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarden” or something like that. Share, be honest and truthful with yourself and with your clients, they can see throught the hype and will appreciate your honesty.

    The beauty of working with horses is that they only know how to act like a horse… people on the other hand…

    Thanks for the pointers and tips.

    1. Laura,

      Great points. If only we all could approach every horse challenge with the open-mindedness we had when we were in kindergarden :-).

  2. I really enjoyed reading your article. Marketing really does come down to the issue of trust. Getting to know your customers and their needs is the key. We live in a time where technology will throw all sorts of information at us. We just need to become better sifters of valuable data. I found your article through all my spam banter this morning and it was well worth it!

  3. Thanks for reading, Marie. You are so right. The issues of trust and what horses can teach us about this one could be complete other article, couldn’t it?

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